Games one and two of the first round match up between the Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets are in the books. Now the series will shift to Winnipeg for games three and four with the Ducks leading the series 2-0. As the two teams take to the ice for game three tonight, several things are already apparent from the two games in Anaheim.
1. Big Bodies Throwing Big Hits
The first two games have been anything but a timid affair. There has been 164 total hits thrown up to this point of the series, with the Ducks out hitting the Jets 94 to 70.
Dustin Byfuglien comes in at second on Winnipeg having unloaded eight hits in two games, only Mark Stuart has more hits than Byfuglien with 11. Ducks forward Ryan Kessler was on the rough end of one of those eight hits and almost ended up in his own bench as a result.
Expect this trend to continue as both teams try to take a physical toll on one another as the series progresses.
2. Late Game Heroics
Late game heroics and blown leads are a package deal. One team is sent off the ice with thoughts of what could have been and the other team goes into their locker room with emotions running high after a come from behind win. In this series both games have featured blown leads and in both cases the Ducks have come from behind to ground the Jets.
In both games the Jets have had leads in the third period but still go into game three down 2-0 in the series. In game one, Corey Perry finished the Jets off with a pair of goals in the third, the first to tie the game and the second to take the lead on the way to a 4-2 win. In game two, with less than ten minutes to play Patrick Maroon tied the game at one on the power play. Then lightning struck again as Jakob Silfverberg scored with just over 20 seconds remaining in the period to propel the Ducks to a 2-0 series lead.
The Jets are going to have to learn to close games out if they want a chance at digging themselves out of this hole.
3. A Tale Of Two Captains
Captains are always relied on to lead their teams, some more than others. For Winnipeg Andrew Ladd is likely looked to to lead his team a little more than Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks. Ladd sits in a locker room with a younger team and only two other Stanley Cup Champions, Getzlaf sits in a room with older players and has Stanley Cup Champs sprinkled throughout the roster.
Up to this point in the series Getzlaf has done his job, Ladd on the other hand can do a much better job.
Getzlaf has recorded one goal and four points, one of his assists came on Perry’s game winning goal in game one. While Ladd has been held to zero points and boasts a minus two rating through two games.
Adding salt to the wound that is Ladd’s situation is the fact that Maroon’s power play goal to tie game two was scored while Ladd was serving a high sticking penalty where he sticked Getzlaf. Oh the irony.
3. Time For The MTS Centre To Shine
Since it was announced that the Atlanta Thrashers would be moved to Winnipeg, the idea of playoff hockey in the hockey crazy city Winnipeg has been painted as an equivalent to Rome’s Colosseum, not in size but in atmosphere.
Now as the series shifts to the Great White North, it is the Jets fan’s turn to will their team to a victory on home ice. The Ducks fans took games one and two and the Jets fans will need to take games three and four.
The hockey world needs to be ready, because that first playoff goal back in Winnipeg will likely be heard all the way down in Anaheim.